Thursday, November 23, 2006

While Waiting

Waiting for family to get ready to go to my sister's for turkey dinner....surfing the net, reading JuJu's blog and discovering this wonderful Australian artist.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The Power of Positive Thinking

My granddaughters (Emma, Kathryn, Annie), my daughter Kelly in the middleHappy Thanksgiving! Warm wishes to you and your loved ones.

I love this time of year. Not the cold, I hate that part, but the action of turning inward, to home, family and self that winter brings. I spent last weekend with my grandchildren in Massachusetts. When they called me on my birthday, I told Annie that I would make the wish before I blew out my candles that I could come see them (knowing full well I was coming). When I left Monday, her parting words were, "Wish again." And wish I will. It's hard not having them nearby but someday, someday soon I hope, their house will sell and they will head back to Maryland. That's my wish.

Cate's tea room with new pink tinsel tree - see the pile of fabric in the chair on the right? She was showing me her stashWhile the little ones were at a friend's birthday party on Sunday, I went a few miles north to the home of Cate Prato, Cloth Paper Scissors Feature Editor, for a spot of tea. Her tea room is definitley "a room of her own" in soft pinks and greens, filled with beloved teacups, vintage fabrics and furniture. After tea we headed to a well-hidden antique mall in Sterling where she fell in love with a vintage pink tinsel tree. It was quite the bargin and even came strung with little pink lights.Oh My Gosh Antique Mall in the old cider mill I scored a bolt of fabric and the best vintage red dress - too small for me to wear, but large enough to provide me with endless inspiration.

I am not doing Thanksgiving this year, that honor goes to my sister. This holiday is the beginning of a nice long period of nesting and creating. First on the list is getting prepared for my photo shoot for INSIGHT Magazine, a Montgomery County, MD magazine that features local artists, among other things. I had seen an issue a couple of months ago and was so impressed with the quality of writing and overall presentation of the magazine that I thought, "Gee, I would like to be in that magazine." Of course, I never had time to do anything about that thought, but lo and behold (what does that phrase really mean?), they contacted ME!

This type of thing happens so often - I think, and it becomes. It's scary in a wonderful way and just goes to show you that there is something to all that "positive thinking" theory. My favorite school of thought, TUT (Totally Unique Thoughts) has the motto "thoughts become things." I get an enlightening email every day from them reminding me of that fact. It's not a magical, overnight thing, but training yourself to be a positive thinker, no matter what school of thought you ascribe to, can change your life.

I love how I get off track when writing these blog entries. What's true in life is also true in art. Just start and see where the art will take you. You do not need to know where you are headed or where you will end up. The important thing is to be moving forward on the path. If a fork in the road calls to you, take it. Trust your inner voice and judgement. Know when to stray and when to stay on the straight and narrow.
Let your thoughts be positive for they will become your words. Let your words be positive for they will become your actions. Let your actions be positive for they will become your values. Let your values be positive for they will become your destiny. ~ Mahatma Gandhi
And most of all, give thanks for what you have.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Monday: Part Deux

Restored Carousel buildingAfter the Cathedral, we went to Glen Echo Park for lunch and recess. Glen Echo has a rich history: "Glen Echo Park began in 1891 as a National

Chautauqua Assembly, which taught the sciences, arts, languages, and literature. By the early 1900s Glen Echo Park had become a premier amusement park that served the Washington area until 1968." Unfortunately the park closed in 1968, when I was 16, because of the after-effects of the 1966 race riots in DC.Art Deco midway. Cotton candy? Popcorn? Guess your weight?
I took my first (and last) roller-coaster ride there, on a small pink one built for children. It scared me so much, I never thought twice about riding the huge wooden one that snaked through the park. A wooden roller-coaster - that dates me! Glen Echo is now a national park and is home to many artist studios and offers a year-round schedule of art & craft classes, as well as the Adventure Theater. Although it is no longer the amusement park my parents took me too, it is still a place where I can take my children (and grandchildren), making it a continuous part of our family story. The renovated Spanish Ballroom is available for wedding receptions, but only seasonally, as it is unheated - a disappointment to my bride-to-be daughter

One of 40 horses"One of the Washington areas local treasures, the historic Glen Echo Park Dentzel carousel is the Parks crowning jewel. Installed at Glen Echo Park in 1921, the canopy and the carved figures were made by the Dentzel Carousel Company of Germantown, Pennsylvania. It is a classic example of hand woodcarving popular during the early 1900s. You can still ride the carousel today. In 2003 the 20-year restoration project to restore the Carousel to its original 1921 beauty was completed." Ride the Rabbit"There are forty horses, along with four rabbits and four ostriches. Riders also have the choice of a giraffe, a deer, a lion and a tiger. And there two circus chariots that people can ride in. One-thousand lights shine from the carousel. It looks very inviting, and not just to children. The restoration exposed decorations long-hidden under layers of paint and some elements were repainted to match their original colors." The carousel was closed for the season, but I was able to take beautiful photographs through the windows. The park is an interesting contrast of restoration and decay, which provides an artist with lots of eye-candy.

A memory stirs each time I enter the park, crossing this stream that feeds into the Potomac River. At one point, a portion of the parking lot was built over the stream. One year, after weeks of rain, the far corner of the parking lot (full of cars) crumbled and tumbled down the side of the hill.

The unrestored House of Mirrors now houses offices. As a child, I spent many evenings in there, nervously winding my way though the maze, hoping I would find my way out. Would it be crystal clear to me if navigated by my now-wise eyes? Last night I discovered how hard on my eyes the day had been - taking in so much, filling them to the brim with color, design, inspiration. Everything at the Cathedral was new to me and I could barely drink it all in. Everything at Glen Echo was full of memory but yet, filled my eyes with wonder. Always a beginner...
Above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around, because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don't believe in magic will never find it. ~ Roald Dahl
Be aware of wonder, live a balanced life, learn some and think some and draw and paint and sew and sing and dance and play and work every day some. ~ Robert Fulghum

Scroll over the photos to learn more.
Stream at park entrance races towards Potomac River
Window into a child's world - the childrens' studio
Things grow more beautiful with ageSee how the twins age?

Monday, November 13, 2006

Monday: Part 1

Yesterday I went on a field trip to the National Cathedral with my daughter's 7th grade class. Being a 6th generation Washingtonian I have a history of never actually visiting some of the places right under my nose, figuring they will always be there for me. But as I approach 54 (on Thursday!), I realize that it's time I discover the things in my own backyard. So I signed up to chaperone this trip.Pews replace chairs near the main altar Not only is the Cathedral architecturally significant (Gothic style, 100% stone construction), it is a wealth of history and...needlework. Yes, needlework! Unlike pews with the built-in kneelers that I am familiar with, in the Cathedral, worshippers sit in chairs. So when they kneel, they need a kneeler. Each one is a work of art, a different original needlepoint cushion, and most often red.

Colorful kneeler

One of my favorites, this one depicts Louisa May Alcott. The walls are covered with needlepoint tapestries, both modern and traditional. There are over 1,500 pieces of needlework in the Cathedral, portraying historic Americans, floral patterns, baby animals and many other work painstakingly done “for the Glory of God.” One could spend a day just looking at kneelers. And stained glass, gargoyles, intricate ironwork, stone carvings....

Childrens ChapelAs the docent led us on our tour, I took many, many pictures, but lighting conditions were bad and most were too dark or blurred because of the slow shutter speed, so bear with me. (I hate the flash). Off to the right of the main aisle there is a Children's Chapel, where everything, including the kneelers,with their playful animal motifs, is scaled to the size of a six year old child. Downstairs in the crypt level, side-by-side lie the ashes of Helen Keller and Annie Sullivan.

Queens and Presidents have walked the very same marble floors that we did. Like the White House is "the People's house", the Cathedral is the people's church, “intended for national purposes, such as public prayer, thanksgiving, funeral orations, etc., and assigned to the special use of no particular Sect or denomination, but equally open to all.”.Hand-carved stoneworkGothic archesCrypt altarI hope they were 1/2 as impressed as I was
And did I mention the kids?

Saturday, November 11, 2006


We have a beautiful park nearby, Cabin John Regional Park. I love to walk inthe woods, but I must be honest, I am a fraidy cat. I simply cannot relax while walking alone for fear the boogy man will get me. I think it's a city girl thing. Actually I feel more confident and in control on a city street where I can see everything. So I usually disregard the call when the woods beckon. Sad I know. But yesterday it was like spring here - warm, 70's, sun shining, clearest blue of a sky. I dropped my daughter and her friends off at the Mall. The park entrance was just a block away. It beckoned, I went. And I LOVED it. Why? Because there were no leaves on any of the trees and I could see everything. There were no hiding places. I had my cell phone and a clear 360-degree view of all that surrounded me and I felt safe. Less than a mile from the Beltway and the Mall, and I was in the middle of the forest, all alone. And I was safe. It was a much needed respite from the whirlwind of my life.

The forest floor was decorated with leaves in shades from red, to orange to brown. Many were well on their way to drying out and becoming fertilizer for next years growth. I gathered a few of the loveliest and then noticed these small, soft, pale pink ones. Soft, like new growth, yet fallen, like all the others. I like to think that the unseasonably warm weather had fooled them into sprouting and then a cold north wind knocked them off, just so they would land at my feet. They were sent here to remind me that there are always beginnings, even when everything else seems to be coming to an end. And beginnings are fragile, easily disrupted until they take a firm hold in our lives. It takes courage to be a beginner, to walk into the unknown. Yet we begin every day anew. We are all always beginning.
If the angel deigns to come it will be because you have convinced her, not by tears but by your humble resolve to be always beginning; to be a beginner. ~ Rilke

Friday, November 10, 2006

Another Glimpse of Houston

Look what I made!I taught this class, Sew What ???, twice but only took pictures in the first one - really, how many thumbnails do you want to look at (unless of course, it's you in the photo, and even then, see how some people hid their face behind their book?) Click on the photo if you want something you can actually view. Sew What??? is a sampler class of different materials one might not normally sew on: mica, metal, copper mesh, transparencies, and yes, pages of luscious, hand-painted watercolor paper.

The quiet before the stormHere's a photo I took of the show floor from the second floor before it opened on Sunday. Actually, this is less than 1/2 of the show floor. And then there is the quilt section, which is itself 9 football fields big. So you can see why just walking around the convention center tires you out. Classrooms are on the third floor. Up, down, all around. I must have traversed it 15-20 times in one week. Wish I had found my pedometer before I left. And it's not like I had calories to walk off. We had breakfast and lunch in our room everyday to save money - banana, bagel and peanut butter & jelly. We did splurge on dinner, but even then I didn't have the appetite for much. The only extra weight I came home with was from fabric and books - my two loves.

Finally - a chance to site downHere I am relaxing with Pokey, (Patricia) Bolton, Editor of Cloth Paper Scissors, and fellow teacher and roommate, Christine Adams at the extravagant reception Karey Bresenhan, Quilts, Inc President and Festival organizer, hosted for all of the members of the QuiltArt list, Journal Quilt Project, and Studio Art Quilt Association

ArtGirlz NationI had to conserve my energy for teaching all week, but on Sunday before I left I was able to spend some time on the show floor schmoozing with the ArtGirlz in their colorful booth. It was practically empty by Sunday - they have some great stuff that people flocked to buy. (You can too in their online store). Traci Bautista is there next to Tracy Stilwell, me and sister Allison Stilwell. Traci, Tracy and Allison taught amazing classes in the Mixed Media classroom and on the show floor at Make It University, introducing quilters to their funky style. I won't say who is, but I'm not the oldest one in this photo. Don't we all look great?

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Mixed Media Art Quilt Class

Here are some of the gorgeous quilts that came out of my Mixed Media Art Quilt class in Houston. Everyone started with the same palette of paints and painted their background then sprayed it with water and let it drip and roll - take a look at our improvised clothesline.

They created with felt and Lutradur branches, transfered the bird and egg images and then put their own spin on the composition. Their work blew me away!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

So Much to Share

I thought I'd come home and write a nice blog entry about my week in Houston. Then when I got home, I figured my blog entry would be about my new book arriving on my doorstep 2 months early. But last night changed everything. It's always so amazing to me that life can change in an instant. I had to change my blogging plans to talk of a wedding!

Jeff and Sara came over last night to have pizza dinner with us ~ The future Mr & Mrs Jeffrey Joiner nothing out of the ordinary. When dinner was over and the other 2 kids at home had scattered, Jeff asked us if we would give our permission for him to marry our daughter. I knew this was coming but figured they would wait until the holidays to announce it. Ha! And I thought I would have a quiet 4 months at home to organize and create new art. Could the Life of Riley get any better? I am riding the moon with this news. We spent the rest of the evening calling the rest of the clan. I could hear my other daughters (at work & at college) screaming through the phone when Sara broke the news.

the perfect holiday giftAnd yes, I was thrilled when I opened the package from Lark Books that was waiting for me when I got home from Houston ~ MY BOOK! I wasn't expecting it until January. I still have to call and find out if this means that everyone will be able to get a copy now, before the holidays...a great gift idea you know.

And Houston, Quilt Market and Festival. I'm still processing everything that I took in all week. Amazing students, astounding art, new opportunities, products, people, possibilities. It will take another whole post to tell you all about it, so stay tuned for more later this week.

PS I am revamping my blog so some of the old things are missing until I get it all set up again.